Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
Since last year's New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Nintendo has demonstrated a commitment to updating successful franchises from the company's archives, but keeping the majority of the classic gameplay and look in tact. The latest incarnation comes in the form of Kirby's Epic Yarn. Though it may not look like Kirby games in the past, fans of the series will see a lot of familiar faces.
Next to Mario, Kirby might be Nintendo's most versatile mascot, seemingly finding his way into one unique adventure after another. In Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby himself--along with the entire world the game takes place in--is made up of nothing but yarn, threads, fabrics, and buttons. The art style is among some of the most original work we've seen considering there have certainly been countless platform games on the market.
The developers have brilliantly incorporated the yarn theme into the title, with gorgeous visuals and clever level design. Players interact with fabrics seamlessly and the game's controls are spot on.
Epic Yarn is a much welcomed departure from the usual laundry list of shooters and action games that reveal themselves around the holiday season, and best of all, it's perfect for gamers of all ages. Sure, the older Wii owner may not find much of a challenge in Epic Yarn, but the unique game scenarios and variations in gameplay are much more fun simply experiencing them anyway.
In a holiday season that's normally diluted with the blood and gore of mainstream gaming, it's refreshing to see a new Kirby title with some of the best technical platforming and 2D action we've gotten on hands on in a very long time.
After playing depressing post-apocalyptic games like Fallout: New Vegas, blood-pressure-raising shooters, and high-focus sports games, I need a little break, a hug, some comfort. Nintendo has always been the champ of this type of give-a-hug comfort gaming, but it may have a new shining example on the Wii: Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Kirby's a gorgeous family-friendly platformer, a fabric-and-yarn-based animated landscape that's part LittleBigPlanet, part classic SNES game updated to 2010. Despite being in 480p, the worlds shine on an HDTV. The gameplay's not particularly difficult at all: jump, collect items, finish level, repeat, up until the prerequisite boss fight at the end of each world. That's not to say there aren't plenty of surprises: weird character transformations, hidden areas, and very clever level ideas are all over the place. The voice over and interconnected storyline may border on the psychedelically weird, but in the best possible way.
The best part of Kirby is its ability to dish out bite-size addictive doses of fun, the sort of fun that can make a grown gamer feel like a kid unwrapping his Super Nintendo 17 years ago. It's the type of game that can make my gaming-jaded wife sit up and watch the screen, too. It's the type of game you're probably loathe to get rid of even after you've completed it. Best of all, it's a brightly colored, magical type of experience, the type that's truly sorely lacking in many current-generation mud-toned games. For all of these reasons, Kirby's like the goofy friend in the room: no matter how bad a mood you're in or how dead-set you are against it, it'll win you over anyway.